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Junior Secondary Education Projects



In 1998, I was asked by the World Bank to review the progress and quality of the school construction component of the World Bank-funded Junior Secondary Education Projects that were underway in West Java, South Sulawesi, Maluku and Sumatra.  The projects had started around the same time as the Basic Education Projects and the project manager had been advised to obtain the assistance of an independent architect or engineer in both the design and supervision of the projects.  Unfortunately she ignored this advice with the consequences that are set out below.

The projects were being managed by a Central Project Co-ordination Unit (CPCU) in the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Jakarta and by Provincial Project Implementation Units (PPIUs) in each of the provincial capitals.  The PPIUs had engaged local firms of architects to design the new schools and to supervise their construction but none of the PPIUs had the technical staff to supervise the work of the consultants or of the contractors. The construction work was supposedly being supervised by the provincial Ministries of Works (PU Cipta Karya) none of which at that time had a very good reputation or could be relied upon to actually visit sites and provide the necessary supervision.

The project manager had realised that there were problems with the construction programme and I was asked to visit project sites in East Java, Jambi and Central Java Provinces and report back on the quality of the construction, the state of completion of the buildings and the suitability of the sites for the schools being constructed on them.

I was accompanied on the visits by a very experienced Indonesian architect (Pak Ahmed Zufar, whom God preserve) who had been employed by MOE in Jakarta for this purpose.  Pak Zufar eventually joined MOE full-time when a central unit was set up to supervise this and subsequent school construction projects.  He continues in this work to the present day and has done, and continues to do, a very good job.

All of the schools that we visited in East Java Province and many of the schools that we visited in Jambi Province had serious structural and design problems.   These had been caused by a number of factors which are set out in detail below.  The schools we visited in Central Java Province had been built to better standards than in the other two Provinces and the only significant problems were site works that had not been completed because of budgetary issues (see below).

We recommended that the CPCU should immediately employ reputable and properly qualified civil and/or structural engineers to carry out surveys of all of the project schools that had been or were being constructed in all provinces and produce a report setting out the problems that they had found and recommendations and costings for remedial work for all the schools that appeared to have structural problems and for completing those schools that were not finished.

The outstanding or defective work was to be completed or put right as soon as possible to avoid danger to pupils and staff and any further damage to buildings and schools or parts of schools that had serious structural defects were to be closed (during the school visits we had already closed down several schools that we thought were too dangerous to stay in use).


The main issues that had affected the construction of schools and which we recommended that the CPCU should review were as follows:

Project Monitoring and Evaluation

It was obvious from what we saw on our school visits that neither the CPCU nor the PPIUs had been carrying out adequate monitoring and evaluation of the construction work and that they did not have the technical staff to do so.  They had also not taken seriously enough the implications of the fall in the value of the rupiah and the subsequent escalation in the cost of building materials.  Contractors were being expected to complete contracts for which they were not being paid the real cost of materials and this was leading them to try and make savings with the result that some buildings were badly constructed or even dangerous.

We recommended therefore that the CPCU should set up a technical unit headed by a properly qualified and experienced architect to oversee the preparation of revised designs and working drawings for junior secondary schools.  The architect should also prepare and/or check building contracts, bills of quantities, schedules of materials, monitor project costs and the work of the PPIUs and visit Provinces and sites regularly.  Pak Zufar eventually took up this role and continues to run the unit.

It was also proposed that each of the PPIUs should set up a technical unit headed by a suitably qualified and experienced architect to oversee the employment of consultants, the preparation of site drawings, the letting of contracts and the supervision of the work.  When construction work was in progress, this architect was to spend most of his/her time visiting sites and ensuring that construction work was proceeding properly, within budget, etc and agreeing any necessary changes with the supervising consultants and contractors.  It was also recommended that ways should be found to allow changes to contract sums especially in times of rapid price escalation.

Site Selection

It was obvious from the sites visited in East Java Province that many of the sites selected for the new schools were not suitable because they were too small, badly situated, too steep, etc with the result that construction costs were much higher than they should have been and in some cases dangerous buildings had been erected. Sites in Jambi Province had been donated by communities and were more suitable as were those in Central Java Province.

We recommended that all sites should be inspected in order to assess whether they were suitable for use for junior secondary schools and if they were not then they should be rejected.

Financing of School Construction

When sites were acquired, site and soil surveys were not being carried out with the result that the designers did not have the information on which to base their designs.  One reason for this was the way that the funding for site acquisition, design and construction operated.  All funds for the design and construction of a school had to be expended in one fiscal year and there could be no carry-over to the next year.  As funds did not become available until August, September or even October and construction had to be completed and funds expended by the following March this did not leave sufficient time for the process of survey, design and construction to be carried out properly.

It also appeared that funding for site works was not being included in the budgets for school construction which was causing enormous problems.

We recommended therefore that sites should be selected, acquired and properly surveyed the year before construction was due to start and that it should be possible to carry over funds for construction from one year to the next in order that building work could be completed properly and that adequate funding for site works should be included in the budget once the site drawings have been prepared.

School Design and Construction Drawings

Although there was a standard schedule of accommodation for junior secondary schools prepared by MOE a great deal of money was being wasted on paying consultants to prepare new designs and bidding documents for each new school.

As noted above, there had been no site surveys, there were no site-specific drawings even of foundations and most of the construction drawings were inadequate which was leading to increased costs during construction.

Many of the designs were much too complicated for construction in remote rural areas by small contractors and the amount of accommodation provided could have been simplified and reduced.  Laboratories for instance, which were rarely if ever used as most rural schools did not have running water or electricity, were being built at all schools. It would have been more cost-effective to provide a Multi-purpose Room without fixed benches and sinks which could be used for a variety of purposes.

Similarly, flush toilets were being provided that rarely worked because there was usually no running water.  While bore-holes, generators and electric water pumps were being provided they quite quickly broke down through lack of maintenance and were not replaced meaning that the schools then had no electricity or water.

Money could also have been saved by not providing electricity to remote, rural schools.  Most of these only operated in the mornings and while there were arguments for providing electricity if the schools were used for two sessions or for SLTP Terbuka (in the evenings), if the only way to provide electricity was through the provision of generators, these soon break down and would not be repaired or replaced.  The option of power being provided by solar panels was at that time considered to be too expensive but would obviously be the way to go now.

It was recommended that the CPCU should have standard designs and working drawings prepared for junior secondary schools that were based upon a simplified schedule of accommodation, used very basic construction techniques and that could be used with a minimum of alteration in all Provinces.  Site specific drawings would be prepared by local consultants in each Province who would also supervise construction.

It was recommended that the PPIUs should select competent architectural and engineering consultants to design and supervise the construction of the schools.  The consultants should be selected the year before construction was due to start and site layouts, site works drawings, foundation designs, all necessary structural and civil works drawings and any modifications required for individual school sites should be prepared giving adequate time the following year for construction.

It was recommended that the issue of supplying rural schools with electricity supplies should be critically examined but that electric water pumps should not be provided.  It was also recommended that rather than flush toilets, either pour-flush privies or VIP latrines should be provided together with covered wells with either buckets or hand-pumps for the supply of water.

Construction Supervision

It was obvious from most of the schools visited in all provinces that little if any supervision of construction was taking place.  Local contractors were being given inadequate drawings and constructing buildings with no supervision from qualified and experienced supervisors which was leading to the construction of badly built or even dangerous buildings.


Supervisors seemed to be mainly technical secondary school graduates (who were obviously the cheapest to employ) who did not have the expertise to supervise and assist the contractors in constructing the buildings properly and it seemed unlikely that senior representatives of either the design or supervision consultants were visiting sites regularly if at all.

It was recommended that the PPIUs should ensure that only qualified and experienced site supervisors were employed by the provincial consultants to supervise the construction work.

Defects Liability Periods

There was then no meaningful defects liability period.  At completion, the contractor handed over the buildings to the PPIUs and they then stood empty for one month after which time the contractor was paid in full and had no further responsibility so if for instance the buildings were completed during the dry season and the roofs started to leak when the rains started, the contractor had no responsibility for repairing the leaks.

It was recommended that there should be a 12 month defects liability period after construction was completed and that 2½% of the contract sum was retained until the end of this period when the buildings would be inspected and the contractor would put right any defects that had appeared.  This system would then enable the Ministry of Education to get defective work rectified.

November 1998 Report on the School Visits

My report of November 1998 contains details of our findings and of our recommendations.  It also contains details of the junior secondary school inspection reports that I devised to assist the engineers in their school surveys, and guidelines for repairing and completing existing junior secondary schools built under the JSE projects and for constructing new schools.

Unfortunately, I no longer have access to a copy of my report that contains photos of the schools that we visited.  However, the descriptions of the school buildings at the schools we visited are enough to show the extent of the problems.  The worst schools were in East Java Province and the worst school that we visited in the province was SLTPN 3 Sumbermanjing and I will quote my summary of our findings at that school:


‘The standard of workmanship on this site is probably the worst that the author has ever seen.  The concrete columns and beams that have been left exposed do not really justify the term `reinforced concrete’ as there is insufficient cover to the reinforcement, columns and beams are too small, form-work has obviously been inadequate or omitted, columns reduce in size as they reach floor level, etc, etc.  The joinery work is better than at the last school but a lot of it is incomplete.  The doors and ironmongery however are very inferior.    What can be seen of the roof trusses looks reasonable but the roof tiles are badly laid causing the many roof leaks.  There must be doubt as to the quality of the fill under the floors if what can be seen of the verandas is typical and therefore the floors are likely to subside.  The rendering and painting of the walls are also very poor.

The contractor has had to construct a great many retaining walls around the site in order to be able to construct the buildings.  He claims that he built these at his own expense as they were not shown on the drawings or included in the tender documents.  He stated that they cost approximately Rp129 million.  Unfortunately they have been very badly built and many of them are cracking and/or subsiding and all these walls must be suspect.  All gable wall foundations, especially those to the classrooms are also suspect and there are probably no properly constructed ring beams to walls.  The contractor claimed that there had been an earth tremor recently which had caused many of the cracks.’



‘It should be noted that the contractor stated that there had been site meetings every three weeks during the construction period attended by himself, the Site Supervisor and a representative of PU Cipta Karya and he also produced a letter from himself and counter-signed by the Site Supervisor and a representative of PU Cipt Karya dated January 1998 and addressed to the Project Manager which claimed that costs had increased by some 40% and asking for some consideration of this.  He had never received a reply to this letter and had stopped work in March because he could not afford to continue.

Although it was stated that this school is badly needed there must be some doubt as to whether it should be used.  The site is extremely slippery and dangerous when wet with no paths, steps, walls or fences and a child could easily slip and fall down.  The strength of all the retaining walls is in doubt and the structural integrity of several of the buildings is also in doubt especially the gable walls to the Classroom units at the top end of the site.  All three classrooms adjacent to these walls in the buildings should not be used.  The Musholla should definitely not be used and should probably be demolished before it collapses.  A properly qualified civil engineer should be retained to report on all the structures and the measures that will be required to make them safe.  Funds should be made available by government to complete the work but there is no doubt that this will cost a great deal of money.'

The photo at the head of this section is of the gable end of one of the buildings at this school and gives some idea of the appalling quality of the work.  When we returned to Jakarta, we recommended that this school, which was only partially complete but was occupied, was closed down immediately.

Result of the School Survey

The findings of our review caused a great deal of concern and a structural engineering firm was asked to carry out a detailed survey of all of the schools being constructed in all of the project provinces.  The survey’s findings were that 7% (12 N°) of the schools had serious structural faults; 44% (76 N°) had inadequate finishes and 14% (25 N°) had been constructed on unsuitable sites ie ones that were on the sides of hills and were in danger of landslides or of subsidence and ones that were in danger of water-logging (one of the schools that we visited in East Java province had ducks swimming around the buildings!).  There were problems in all provinces but the worst buildings by far were in East Java Province.

Further Missions to Review the Projects

I went back to Indonesia in March 1999 and visited junior secondary school sites in South Sumatra, Lampung and Central Java Provinces.  The issues that I found in these provinces with construction of schools were similar to those found during the previous mission.  Note: there were also JSE projects started or starting in Jambi, West Sumatra, Riau, Benkulu and North Sumatra Provinces some of which I visited later.

The main issue was the poor quality of construction of many of the schools built in 1997/98 which had been caused by a variety of factors including bad workmanship, poor supervision, the rapid rise in the cost of building materials and the use of fixed-price contracts all as set out above.

Nearly all of the schools were incomplete due to the omission in the contract documents of the majority of the site works.  This had rendered many of the sites and buildings unsafe and had been a major factor in the poor quality of the buildings.

Further issues were the lack of adequate supplies of clean water at most sites, the lack of functioning toilets and the provision of (often inadequate) electrical installations on sites that would never have an electricity supply.

Full details of my findings can be found in my report of March 1999.  The report also contains terms of reference for the proposed Construction Unit in the CPCU and revised accommodation schedules and designs for 3 and 6 classroom junior secondary schools.  I again unfortunately, no longer have access to a copy of my report that contains photos of the schools that we visited and of the drawings of the revised designs.  The revised accommodation schedules and designs for 3 and 6 classroom junior secondary schools can however be seen here. The designs that the government were using at the time can be seen here.

I returned in October 1999 for the mid-term review of the projects and I visited school construction sites in East Java, Lampung and Central Kalimantan Provinces.  The issues in Lampung and Central Kalimantan Provinces were much the same as I had found during my earlier visits to the other provinces.  There was an additional issue in Kalimantan in that the ground water level in the parts of the province where we were constructing schools was very high and school toilets were being constructed dangerously close to septic tanks and soakaways and there was a serious risk of contamination of the school water supplies.

Very little remedial work had been carried out to the schools that had problems in East Java Province and in fact some of the work that had been carried out had made the situation worse!  The PPIU and the provincial authorities did not seem to have much interest in carrying out remedial works and the issue of whether further funding should be given to the province was discussed.  It was eventually decided not to give the province any more funds for school construction and later the government had to pay back some of the funds already provided because of mis-procurement in the province.  Full details of my mission and my findings can be found in my October 1999 report (again, unfortunately without photographs).


Phase 2 of the Junior Secondary Education Projects

I did not return to Indonesia until March 2003 when I was asked to assess the progress of the construction components of the original junior secondary school projects and the readiness to start the second phase of junior secondary school projects.

Taking the example of the Basic Education Projects which were using school committees to implement their construction programmes, the implementation of the junior secondary schools had been changed from the use of contractors to a similar model to that of BEP and the construction of the later schools in Phase 1 was being managed by school committees.  My task was therefore to assess the quality of the schools still under construction and the state of readiness on the PPIUs to start Phase 2.

Each province had standard school designs prepared by local civil works consultants and these or other consultants were supposed to assist the school committees manage the construction of the schools by providing them with a set of site and working drawings for the buildings (having first carried out a site survey), a schedule of materials necessary to construct the buildings, an estimate of cost and a Construction Manager who would be based on site and would assist the committee in managing the works.

The main issues raised during the mission (when schools being constructed by school committees were inspected) concerned the performance of the civil works consultants and the quality of construction which again was related to the performance of the consultants. The consultants had performed better in some provinces than in others but there were some problems in all provinces.

It seemed that the consultants were still working with the school committees as though they were contractors and were not giving them the support that was necessary.  In many cases site surveys had not been carried out and the drawings and details provided were generally inadequate and did not take into account site conditions; the Construction Managers were generally young and inexperienced and did not have sufficient authority to work effectively with the committees; there were no detailed schedules of materials or cost estimates and the lack of site surveys and details had lead in many cases to inaccurate budgets and there was therefore a danger of cost-overruns; supervision and management by the Construction Managers was generally poor and the committees were in many cases not following the project guidelines.

This lack of adequate supervision and management by the consultants had led directly to a number of construction issues: concrete mixes and concrete-work was very poor on many sites; reinforcement that was smaller than that specified had been used on many sites; foundations under columns were in many cases inadequate; poor quality timber was being used and trusses were being badly made; brick-work was being very badly laid on some sites; top-soil had not been properly stripped off on many sites and floors were being constructed on top of vegetable soil and on many sites, wells had been constructed much too close to septic tanks.

It was noted however that the school committees and their technical teams were, within their limitations, managing the work quite well and were very enthusiastic about this approach to the construction of schools.  The schools were in the main being finished to a better standard and the committees were trying to use better quality materials.  The cost of schools constructed by school committees also appeared to be lower than that of schools constructed by contractors.  If the consultants and particularly the Construction Managers had been carrying out their duties properly and effectively most if not all of the problems noted above could have been avoided.  See March 2003 Report for details.

I returned again in December 2003 and visited West Nusa Tenggara and South Sulawesi Provinces and all of the issues noted during the March 2003 Mission were again observed during this mission. The problems were particularly bad in South Sulawesi Province.  See December 2003 Report for details.

I returned in June 2004 as part of the Implementation Completion Report process of the Junior Secondary Education Projects.  I visited Lampung and South Sumatra Provinces and schools constructed by contractors in the early stages of the project were visited together with more recent schools that had been managed by school committees.

The detailed issues raised by the visits all stemmed from four major factors: 1) problems caused by poor initial design or specification by the consultants; 2) problems caused by poor construction whether by contractor or school committees; 3) problems caused by poor supervision and management by the consultants during construction and 4) problems caused by poor maintenance or the complete lack of maintenance.  See June 2004 Report for details.


My main conclusions were as follows:

Although there were still some problems, there had been a great improvement in the quality of the schools being constructed since the switch was made from construction by contractors to construction by school committees.

The problems seen in all three missions that had been carried out since school committees took over the management of the work were nearly all caused by the poor performance of the civil works consultants both in the preparation of the documents required by the school committees to carry out the work and in the actual management and supervision of the work by the consultants.

The school committees seemed in the main to be enthusiastic and capable at a non-technical level (though there were some exceptions mainly in South Sulawesi Province) of carrying out the work and the cost of the work carried out by school committees seemed to be lower than that carried out by contractors.  The finishes in schools built by committees also seemed to be better than at those built by contractors.

The real problems were caused by poor documentation, poor management and poor supervision by the consultants.  None of the consultants seemed to have understood that using school committees to manage construction is different to using contractors and that different documentation and more technical assistance is required.

I noted that, if this approach was to be used in future (and the government was very keen to do this) then a different approach to the provision of technical assistance would be required.  There was no doubt that school committees would require technical assistance because these were quite large and expensive projects and the committees would not be able to manage them by themselves.  However, the provision of technical assistance through large contracts to consulting firms at the provincial level was not working.

It was suggested therefore that a better approach might be for the PPIUs to hire well qualified and experienced individual consultants, one for each school.  These consultants would require training in the provision of technical assistance to school committees and they also require a construction hand-book similar to the one developed for the Basic Education Projects.  This hand-book (which should also be supplied to the school committees) should set out the steps required in constructing the school buildings together with standard drawings, specifications and schedules of materials.  The Construction Unit in the CPCU had already developed a standard set of designs and drawings for new schools.  It was also proposed that the PPIUs should hire one or more civil works consultants to monitor the work of the individual consultants to ensure that they were carrying out their duties properly.

It was considered that this approach would be cheaper than using large firms, would give the PPIUs more control over the consultants on the sites and would provide the school committees with a better standard of technical assistance and therefore improve the quality of the completed schools.  It is not clear whether this actually happened but the Ministry has been using the community-based approach to successfully construct junior secondary schools ever since apparently with great success.

The photo gallery below shows some of the junior secondary schools constructed using school committees to manage the construction process.

Project Gallery

JSE Sth Sumatra June 2004 074
JSE Sth Sumatra June 2004 073
JSE Sth Sumatra June 2004 046
JSE Sth Sumatra June 2004 028
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JSE Sth Sumatra 1 June 2004 027
JSE Sth Sumatra 1 June 2004 006
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 055
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 041
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 038
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 030
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 027
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JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 016
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 014
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 012
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JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 005
JSE Lampung 2 June 2004 002
JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 083
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JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 050
JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 043
JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 042
JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 038
JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 011
JSE Lampung 1 June 2004 009
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